TIME movies

Make Chaste: How the Faith-Based Counterpart to 50 Shades of Grey Came to Be

'Old Fashioned' will offer an alternative vision of romance — but it predates its release-weekend competition

When Variety announced this week that the 50 Shades of Grey movie would have some competition in its Valentine’s Day opening weekend next year, the timing was impeccable: interest in 50 Shades had recently returned to fever pitch, with the release of the first trailer (which you can watch, above, for the umpteenth time) and that meant that the anti-50 Shades brigade was out in full force too.

That’s where Old Fashioned comes in.

“A former frat boy and free-spirited woman together attempt the impossible, an old-fashioned courtship in contemporary America,” reads the movie’s logline. The premise involves a romantic male lead who makes a commitment to not be alone with his intended until after marriage. It is, producer Nathan Nazario says, an “unconventional approach to romance” — and pretty much the exact opposite of the sex-contract-centric 50 Shades. As Variety notes, Old Fashioned’s distributor Freestyle Releasing has had success with that kind of “unconventional” before, having released God’s Not Dead earlier this year.

Though the idea of an upstart response to mass interest in BDSM relationships makes for a fun meta-narrative, Old Fashioned isn’t actually a reaction to 50 Shades of Grey.

The raunchy novel by E.L. James that started it all was published in 2011, but Old Fashioned‘s writer-director-star Rik Swartzwelder tells TIME that he’d been working on the screenplay for a decade. “I’m a huge cinema buff and I see all kinds of movies but I had never seen a film that reflected my dating life,” he says. That inspired him to create something that would.

Swartzwelder describes the film as “not a religious film, per se” but “a film with faith,” which was financed by individuals who believed in the story. The film was shot in late 2011 and, though Swartzwelder says 50 Shades wasn’t on his radar while he was coming up with the story, the team was aware of the phenomenon by the time they hit post-production. And even if the movie didn’t start out having anything to do with the bigger blockbuster that will share its release date, it was a response to what its creators see as a culture that celebrates ideas like those in 50 Shades but doesn’t seem to create stable romantic relationships. Nazario cites the American divorce rate as evidence that there needs to be an alternative to the mainstream way of finding a mate, and making a movie that presents one such alternative is one way to help that along.

So, despite the lack of a concrete tie between the two movies, the timing is — obviously — not a coincidence.

“For a small independent film with no stars, timing is always a consideration,” Nazario explains. “We were looking ahead at dates and observed that 50 Shades had put a stake on Valentine’s Day. We’d actually been thinking about that date and, when we saw that, it seemed like a good opportunity.”

Still, its audience will have to wait a few months to find out what Old Fashioned‘s creator really thinks of 50 Shades. “The answer to your question is the film [Old Fashioned] itself,” says Swartzwelder. “I’ll let people draw their own conclusions.”

TIME Panda Sex

Richard Nixon Asked a Reporter to Watch Panda Sex

A new book details the former president’s keen interest making sure his new pandas got busy

When former Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai gave the United States two pandas in 1972, the result, as captured in a pun-perfect turn of phrase by first lady Pat Nixon, was “panda-monium,” report the authors of the new book The Nixon Tapes: 1971-1972.

And that panda-monium–something which we here at TIME, progenitors of our very own replacement panda-cam, know all about–has continued, once more proving that we are but one nation, under panda.

But the very first panda lover of all of us–the prototypical panda pursuer, the panda panderer to rule them all–was none other than bowling enthusiast and nearly two-term President Richard M. Nixon.

Nixon’s interest in his new Chinese pandas, Ling Ling and Hsing Hsing, was such that he was touchingly concerned with their sex lives.

Here’s Nixon’s exchange with Washington Star foreign editor Crosby Noyes, courtesy of The Washington Post.

Nixon: The problem, however, with pandas is that they don’t know how to mate. The only way they learn how is to watch other pandas mate. You see?

Noyes: [laughs]

Nixon: And, so they’re keeping them there a little while—these are younger ones—

Noyes: I see.

Nixon: —to sort of learn, you know, how it’s done.

Noyes: Sure, learn the ropes—

Nixon: Now, if they don’t learn it, they’ll get over here and nothing will happen, so I just thought you should just have your best reporter out there to see whether these pandas—

You get the picture.

In exchange for the pandas, the U.S. gave China two musk oxen, which are neat enough, sure, but it’s pretty clear who got the better end of that deal.

TIME celebrity

5 Controversial Quotes From Lana Del Rey

Day 2 - Glastonbury Festival
Lana Del Rey performs on the Pyramid stage on Day 2 of the Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm on June 28, 2014 in Glastonbury, England. (Photo by Tabatha Fireman/Redferns via Getty Images) Tabatha Fireman—Redferns via Getty Images

She's "annoyed" her sex life didn't further her career, but that's just the tip of the iceberg

Lana Del Rey is never boring — the eccentric pop star can always be relied on to provide at least a few nuggets of weirdness in any given interview. She’s getting flak right now for the first item listed below, but why are we surprised? She’s always got something offbeat and amazing to say.

1) She’s “annoyed” that her sex life never helped her get a record deal.

Even though one of her new songs is called “F***ed My Way Up to the Top,” Del Rey told Complex magazine that sleeping with guys in the music industry has never helped her career.

You know, I have slept with a lot of guys in the industry. But none of them helped me get my record deals. Which is annoying.

Earlier, she said:

I relate to being the person who people come to for “such a change from the old routine,” but not being the main thing. I had a long-term relationship for seven years with someone who was the head of a label and I felt like I was that change of routine. I was always waiting to become the person who his kids came home to, and it never happened.

It’s important to note that most of the coverage of this controversial quote has focused on the “I have slept with a lot of guys” part, not the effect it might have had on her career. Several big media outlets put the quote in their headlines, which can come off as slut-shaming.

2) Tesla is way cooler than feminism.

In a recent interview in Fader magazine, she made it clear where she stands on the age-old Feminists vs. Aliens debate:

“For me, the issue of feminism is just not an interesting concept. I’m more interested in, you know, SpaceX and Tesla, what’s going to happen with our intergalactic possibilities. Whenever people bring up feminism, I’m like, god. I’m just not really that interested.”

Feminist aliens have yet to weigh in.

3) She kind of has a death wish.

She once told The Guardian that she admired Amy Winehouse and Kurt Cobain so much that “I wish I were dead already,” which led to a lengthly discussion of mortality:

Interviewer: Is early death glamorous?

“I don’t know. Ummm, yeah.”

Interviewer: Don’t say that

“I do! I don’t want to have to keep doing this. But I am.

Interviewer: Do what? Make Music?

“Everything. That’s just how I feel. If it wasn’t that way, then I wouldn’t say it. I would be scared if I knew [death] was coming, but …”

The singer retracted her comments afterward on Twitter in a series of now-deleted tweets, saying the interviewer had asked her leading questions.

4) Her friend Juliette Lewis didn’t realize that was her on SNL.

In outtakes from this month’s Rolling Stone profile, Del Rey reveals that she was friends with Juliette Lewis before the actress publicly dissed her Saturday Night Live performance:

I was actually friends with her before that but she didn’t know it was me on TV. I had been more blonde before or something. She called me and was like, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry.’ But we got over it. Because the truth is, we’re birds of a feather in a way. In the end, we thought it was really funny.

Because messing up your friend’s hair color can happen to anybody!

5) Every day is Opposite Day.

Because Lana Del Rey is George Constanza:

“I’m really specific about why I’m doing something or writing something. But it always kind of gets translated in the opposite fashion. I haven’t done it yet, but I’ve learned that everything I’m going to do is going to have the opposite reaction of what I meant. So I should do the opposite if I want a good reaction.”

When Rolling Stone pointed out that George already tried this, she says, “Oh really? That’s awesome. Me and George Costanza!”

6) She mixes up sounds and colors.

It sounds like the directions she gave to Ultraviolence producer Dan Auerbach were, um, confusing (also from the Rolling Stone outtakes:)

“I would explain things to him in terms of colors and touchstone words,” she says. “My word for the record was ‘fire,’ you know, blue fire, when a flame gets so hot it goes from red to blue. And I told him I wanted everything to sound like it was in the key of blue. And I think at first he was like, ‘What the f*ck?’”

This was mostly to distinguish from Lady Gaga, who wants everything to sound like it’s in the key of rainbows.

TIME Sex

Losing Your Virginity Is Better Than Ever

New study shows that the "first time" is more enjoyable for this generation than for previous ones

If you’re a young virgin, you’re in luck! According to a new study from the Journal of Sex Research, losing your virginity these days is more enjoyable than it’s been in 20 years, at least if you’re a woman.

Researchers found overall gender differences in male and female approaches to virginity loss, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. Men are much more likely to have a “pleasurable experience” than women (a truth universally acknowledged) but also reported more anxiety surrounding the act. Women were much more likely to feel guilty after having sex for the first time.

But the good news is that those differences have changed significantly since the research started in 1980. While men reported the same amount of “pleasure” from their first sexual experience across three decades, women have reported a significant increase in first-time-fun-times since the study began. Men also reported less anxiety over the three decades, and women reported less guilt. Which means losing your virginity now is probably going to be a better experience now than ever before.

The researchers also point out that the findings are consistent with the theory of erotic plasticity, which states that female sexuality is more likely to change with social and cultural norms.

But if women are reporting more pleasure and less guilt from their first time, and men are reporting less anxiety, that’s good news for everyone!

 

TIME Dating

Is That a Look of Love, or Lust? Science Has the Answer

Smiling Couple Dating
A close-up of a smiling couple is shown. Sam Edwards—OJO Images RF/Getty Images

A wife and husband research team finds different eye movements for love and lust

Scientists may have found a way to answer a question so many people have when they’re dating: “Where is this going?” All you have to do, according to researchers at the University of Chicago, is watch a potential partner’s eyes.

A new study found that eye movements could reveal whether a person was in lust or in love. Their results, collected from male and female students at the University of Geneva, showed that participants fixated more on the face when they perceived an image to evoke romantic love but that their gaze shifted to the rest of the body when an image seemed indicative of sexual desire.

“Although little is currently known about the science of love at first sight or how people fall in love, these patterns of response provide the first clues regarding how automatic attentional processes, such as eye gaze, may differentiate feelings of love from feelings of desire toward strangers,” said the study’s lead author Stephanie Cacioppo.

Cacioppo is becoming somewhat of an expert on the biology of love. Earlier this year, she conducted research finding that feelings of love and desires for sex were located in different parts of the brain. “This distinction has been interpreted to mean that desire is a relatively concrete representation of sensory experiences, while love is a more abstract representation of those experiences,” she said in February.

Cacioppo is joined in her findings by her real-life partner in love, her husband and University of Chicago researcher John Cacioppo. “By identifying eye patterns that are specific to love-related stimuli, the study may contribute to the development of a biomarker that differentiates feelings of romantic love versus sexual desire,” he said. “An eye-tracking paradigm may eventually offer a new avenue of diagnosis in clinicians’ daily practice or for routine clinical exams in psychiatry and/or couple therapy.”

We see an eye-tracking app in the making.

TIME

6 Weird Scientific Facts About Love

Bride and groom couple
Cultura RM/Mallon Industries—Getty Images/Collection Mix: Subjects RM

Sure, you know the basics about the birds and the bees, but how much do you really know about what goes on in your body—and your mind—while you’re falling head over heels or doing the deed? Here are some fascinating facts about love and sex that may surprise you.

Health.com: 15 Everyday Habits to Boost Your Libido

Spouses may have similar DNA

Scientists already knew that people tend to choose romantic partners with similar characteristics, such as age, race, religion, income, and upbringings. But a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science found that people also tend to marry others with similar DNA. When researchers studied the genetic material of 825 white American couples, they found fewer differences in the DNA between married people than between two randomly selected individuals within the same race. In fact, they calculated that the tendency to pair up with a genetically similar spouse is about one-third as strong as the tendency to do so with someone with a similar education.

Health.com: Best and Worst Foods for Your Sex Life

Watching rom-coms may help strengthen marriage

Watching movies may be one key to marital bliss, says Matthew Johnson, PhD, director of the Marriage and Family Studies Laboratory at Binghamton University. In his study, couples attended counseling or watched relationship-themed movies and completed discussion guides together. Both strategies cut the groups’ divorce rate in half after three years—but the movie-watching activity took 50% less time and took place almost entirely at home. “The key is to talk with your partner about your relationship in the context of a movie,” says Johnson.

Women can make their voice “sexier,” but men can’t

In a 2014 study, Albright University researchers found that women were able to deliberately manipulate their voices—while counting from one to 10—to sound more attractive. But, sorry guys: When men tried to be sexier, they were actually rated as sounding worse! When a woman intentionally drops her voice to make it sound low and breathy, she’s often perceived as more attractive—but not exactly for the reasons you might think. Men tend to prefer women with higher, more feminine voices, says co-author Susan Hughes, PhD, associate professor of psychology. But when a woman lowers her voice to “sound sexy,” she’s signaling her interest in a potential mate—a clue that men are able to pick up on.

Health.com: 8 Reasons Why Sex is Better After 50

You’re less likely to get grossed out when aroused

Sex can be a messy activity with lots of fluids and smells, but in the heat of the moment, none of that (usually) seems to matter. According to a study from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, that’s because sexual arousal overrides the body’s natural “disgust response.” When researchers asked women to watch either an erotic film, a sports video, or a “neutral” video of a train, and then perform a series of unpleasant acts (like drinking out of a cup with a bug in it), they found that those who’d watched the sexual acts rated the tasks as less disgusting—and were also able to complete more of them. Previous research has suggested that sexual arousal has a similar impact on men, as well.

Love is good for your bones

Marriage appears to strengthen men’s skeletons, according to a University of California Los Angeles study, especially if they wait until after age 25 to tie the knot. Researchers aren’t sure why, but they point out that it’s not the first time marriage has been linked to health. Other studies, for example, have suggested that married people live longer, are more likely to survive cancer, and have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

Health.com: 10 Reasons You’re Not Having Sex

Old people do it, too

Sexual interest and sexual function do both decline with age—especially as adults begin to take more medications—but that doesn’t mean that senior citizens aren’t still getting it on. “Many people do continue to have sex into their old age, often until death,” Garcia says. And they’re not always careful: “Besides teenagers and young adults, the elderly is the biggest population for sexually-transmitted disease spikes,” he adds. “They’re not worried about getting pregnant, so they’re not using condoms.”

READ MORE: 20 Weird Facts About Sex and Love on Health.com

TIME psychology

Where to Find Love — Or Lust

Where To Find Love — Or Lust:
adam smigielski—Getty Images

When readers email me about the research behind relationships and sex the most common question is always the same:

Where?

Where should they meet that special someone? Bars? Online? Through friends? Book clubs? Terrorist cells? Religious cults…?

What works?

Yes, science has info.

But the answers depend on what you’re looking for.

Looking For Love

Want to settle down? Ask a family member if they know anyone.

People meet all kinds of partners through friends. But you’re far more likely to meet your future spouse via a family member.

Via Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives — How Your Friends’ Friends’ Friends Affect Everything You Feel, Think, and Do:

While friends were a source of introduction for all kinds of sexual partnerships at roughly the same rate (35– 40%), family members were much more likely to introduce people to their future spouses than to future one-night stands.

In fact, any sort of organized group is a good bet. 60% of those surveyed met their future spouse through school, work, church, etc.

Via Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives — How Your Friends’ Friends’ Friends Affect Everything You Feel, Think, and Do:

…the Chicago Sex Survey also collected data on where Americans met their partners. Sixty percent of the people in the study met their spouses at places like school, work, a private party, church, or a social club— all of which tend to involve people who share characteristics.

But you probably don’t want to meet a serious partner at work – those relationships don’t seem to last:

The vast majority of these relationships have not lasted, especially for older workers. For workers who are over 50, 77% of those sexual relationships have ended. Younger people appear to have had more luck with 58% of people in the 18-24 age group reporting that they are still in their relationship. But perhaps that is just because they have been in the workplace such a short period of time the relationships are still new.

(And about half of people who cheat on their spouse met their lover at work.)

Only 10% of people found wedded bliss in a bar.

Via Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives — How Your Friends’ Friends’ Friends Affect Everything You Feel, Think, and Do:

Ten percent met their spouses at a bar, through a personal ad, or at a vacation spot, where there is more diversity but still a limited range of types of people who might be available to become future spouses.

Online dating is probably a better choice than the booze hall.

17% of people who have dated online met a spouse or long-term relationship partner there.

And these stats are from 2006 — that number is likely to have grown and will probably continue to grow.

Via Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives — How Your Friends’ Friends’ Friends Affect Everything You Feel, Think, and Do:

Of these “online daters,” 43 percent— or nearly seven million adults— have gone on actual, real-life dates with people they met online, and 17 percent of them— nearly three million adults— have entered long-term relationships or married their online dating partners, according to a systematic national survey.

So once you’re talking to prospective partners, what do you want to be looking for?

Conscientiousness is the personality trait correlated with happy marriages:

…our findings suggest that conscientiousness is the trait most broadly associated with marital satisfaction in this sample of long-wed couples.

In fact, it’s correlated with a lot of good things including better health, longer lives, and greater success.

How do you detect conscientiousness? Look for formality of dress and signs of someone who is neat and organized.

More often than not you can get a feeling for how conscientious someone is just by looking at their face.

(Here’s what to talk about on that first date and the best things to ask to bond with your partner.)

Looking For Lust

Some of the answers here should be a bit more obvious now.

Bars and clubs are good. Friends are fine and meeting through family members is probably a bad idea.

In fact, you’re also more likely to have sex with someone sooner if you met through friends or at a club and not through a family member.

Meet through a family member and there’s only a 24% chance you’ll have sex within a month. Meeting at a nightclub doubles that.

Via Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives — How Your Friends’ Friends’ Friends Affect Everything You Feel, Think, and Do:

And how people meet is also relevant to how quickly they have sex. In the Chicago study, those who met their partners through their friends were slightly more likely to have sex within a month of meeting than those who met through family members. A similar study conducted in France found that couples who met at a nightclub were much more likely to have sex within a month (45 percent) than those who met at, say, a family gathering (24 percent), which is not surprising since one typically does not have sex in mind at family events.

Which countries are most promiscuous? Try Finland or New Zealand. Most promiscuous US states? Nevada, Arkansas and Rhode Island.

College is generally a good place for a fling — unless you go to Harvard.

Via The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work:

Based on my study of Harvard undergraduates, the average number of romantic relationships over four years is less than one. The average number of sexual partners, if you’re curious, is 0.5 per student. (I have no idea what 0.5 sexual partners means, but it sounds like the scientific equivalent of second base.) In my survey, I found that among these brilliant Harvard students, 24 percent are unaware if they are currently involved in any romantic relationship.

While online dating gives you a better than average chance of meeting a future spouse, it’s also good for just getting it on.

30% of women using online dating have had sex on the first date:

Thirty percent of respondents engaged in sexual activity on their first encounter. Seventy-seven percent of respondents who met an online partner did not use condoms for their first sexual encounter.

Why is this?

Researchers believe having all that profile info up front along with email flirting leads to “accelerated intimacy” upon first meeting:

“Online dating can lead to feelings of accelerated intimacy,” says Paige Padgett, PhD, the author of the study and a research associate in the UT School of Public Health’s Division of Epidemiology and Disease Control. “You are able to disclose deeply personal information faster than you would if you were just meeting face to face for the first time,” she explains… Because all of the nitty-gritty preliminaries are out of the way before you actually meet the person, Padgett believes that this may foster a sense of relationship before there is an actual relationship.

(And if you’re going to go the online route, here’s how to make yourself most appealing.)

So the dual use of online dating sites raises a question:

What should you talk about if you’re on the hunt for something less-than-serious and want to see if your partner’s on the same page?

OkCupid found that a “yes” answer to “Do you like the taste of beer?” is the best indicator of who has sex on the first date.

Or simply joke about sex. Research shows the people who laugh are less likely to be focused on long-term relationships.

Via Mating Intelligence Unleashed: The Role of the Mind in Sex, Dating, and Love:

…in one observational study at a bar where male humorous sexual remarks ran rampant, it was noted that the women who laughed at such jokes did indeed seem sexually interested in the men, whereas (obviously) the women who didn’t laugh were not sexually interested. These humorous sexually loaded attempts could be conceptualized as a test to gauge interest and receptivity to a sexual encounter.

So alcohol and double entendres work for James Bond and they can work for you.

(And one might note that 007 never ended up with one of the Bond Girls because he asked his aunt if she could set him up with someone nice.)

What’s Next?

Other posts you should read on sex, marriage, and love:

Join 45K+ readers. Get a free weekly update via email here.

This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

TIME Sex

The Strange Social Science of the Color Red

Women walking
Getty Images

There's plenty of research connecting the color with sex. Here's why

When it comes to sex and women, red is the first color you think of, right? Red lips, red lingerie, red dress. Studies show men perceive women who wear red on dating profiles as both sexier and more open to a sexual encounter.

Red, it seems, sends a very clear message—about sex. And now scientists add to the scarlet sex literature with this piece of data, which we reported on earlier, in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin – turns out it’s not just men, but women too who see women who dress in red as more overtly sexual and open to having sex. Not only that, women perceive other women who sport red clothing as sexual rivals (i.e. after their mates), which raises their competitive instincts and leads them to think negatively about their ability to maintain relationships and be loyal.

What? Does that mean every time I grab the red dress my female friends see me as a romantic threat who is about to move in on their partners? “I don’t think it’s the case that women who wear red are always advertising sexual interest,” says Adam Pazda, a social psychologist at University of Rochester who led the study. “But there is evidence that people make judgments about other people in general based on clothing. You can see how color might easily fit into that.”

MORE: The Science of Dating: Wear Red

Pazda says that studies have also shown that people who view pictures of female news anchors in loose or tight-fitting clothing perceived those wearing the form-fitting outfits as less competent, possibly some derivation of the idea that they were dressing for sex and therefore somehow less able to do their jobs.

One thing to remember about that study, and Pazda’s as well: You probably react differently to strangers you pass on the street than those you’re confronted with in a lab setting, where the questions the scientists are asking can’t help but be leading.

If someone sticks a picture of a news anchor wearing a loose top in front of you, asks you to rate her competence, you’re going to grasp at any possible clue to make your decision, because you have to make a decision, or a judgment. You have no other information on the anchor—you don’t know her, you don’t know her background, and you certainly don’t know her experience, which would be more reasonable measures of her competence. Instead, you’re making a snap judgment and for that, you tend to rely on your cultural experience.

And when it comes to the color red and women, that cultural background tells you that red equals sex. In Pazda’s study, he ran three experiments, one to test whether women perceived other women dressing in red as more sexually receptive than those clothed in the same outfit but in white; another to determine if that perception of being more open to sex implied sexual promiscuity, and a final experiment to test whether another color (green) and outfit changed the results.

Each participant was shown either the red-clothed image or the white- or green-clothed one, and then asked to rate, on a sliding scale, the woman’s openness to sexual encounters and her promiscuity. But since they knew nothing else about the women in the pictures. They couldn’t hear their voices, or watch their behaviors. With no other information to go on what were the participants basing their decisions on?

They were likely relying on deeply ingrained, and even unconscious biases connecting the color red to sex. “When we asked, ‘Is this person interested in sex,’ or how seductive or flirtatious is this person, they are drawing on whatever cues are available to make judgments about them,” says Pazda. “One of the only cues is using the dress or shirt color.”

That may only play a small part in people’s first impressions of others in real life, however, where they have facial expressions, behavior, conversations and other information on which to base their decision. Pazda admits that “people aren’t always making judgments about others automatically. But if we stop and make a judgment, color may influence how that judgment is processed.”

TIME psychology

Study: Women View Other Women Wearing Red as a Sexual Threat

They believe scarlet-clad women are looking for a little romance, given half a chance

The ballad “The Lady in Red” was released in 1986 by the singer Chris de Burgh, to widespread acclaim; the pop ballad was massively successful, reaching the top position on the charts in Canada, the UK, Ireland, and Norway, while peaking at #3 in the U.S.

De Burgh’s lyrics—e.g., “I’ve never seen so many men ask you if you wanted to dance/They’re looking for a little romance, given half a chance/And I have never seen that dress you’re wearing”—depict a wonderfully special night, and he’s stated publicly that the song was inspired by the first time he saw his future wife.

In the past, psychological research has found that men perceive women wearing red (like de Burgh’s lady) as more sexually receptive, due to the “biologically based predisposition to receive red as a sexual signal”. Recently, a companion study has been published that documents how women perceive other women wearing red—as it turns out, the color has a similar effect.

The research team, led by University of Rochester psychologist Adam Pazda, conducted three experiments to find out how, exactly, women respond. Here’s how they did it, via Pacific Standard:

Pazda and his colleagues describe three experiments conducted on two different continents that provide evidence that wearing red sets off certain alarm bells. In the first, 196 women recruited online viewed a photo of “a moderately attractive women in her late 20s.”

Half saw an image of her wearing a white dress; the rest viewed an otherwise identical image of her in a red dress. Afterwards, all responded on a sliding scale to a series of statements such as “This person is interested in sex.”

As expected, the woman was seen as more sexually receptive if she was wearing red. This held true whether or not the study participants were in a committed relationship.

Fascinating stuff. Pazda and his colleagues found another effect—that the women who were exposed to the photo of the woman wearing red engaged in “mate-guarding” and “derogation”; in other words, they were more likely to speak negatively about the woman wearing red (“I would guess that this women cheats on men”, “I would guess that this woman has no money”, etc.) and more likely to protect their significant others from her. Here’s Pacific Standard:

Another experiment featured 143 women enrolled at two Slovakian universities. They, too, looked at a photo of a woman in her 20s; she was wearing either a red or green shirt. Afterwards, they were asked to rate not only her interest in sex, but were asked “How likely would you be to introduce this person to your boyfriend?”

Those who viewed her in the red shirt rated the woman as “more sexually receptive,” and “reported stronger intentions to guard their mate from the target,” the researchers report.

De Burgh’s song didn’t speak about the other women in the room—if it had, he might have told a different story.

 

MONEY

How Married Couples Master Sex—and Money

Michael Sheen as Dr. William Masters and Lizzy Caplan as Virginia Johnson in Masters of Sex (season 2, episode 3)
Michael Sheen as Dr. William Masters and Lizzy Caplan as Virginia Johnson in Masters of Sex. Courtesy of SHOWTIME

Masters and Johnson may not have asked couples how their paychecks affected their sex life, but we did. And here's what we learned.

With the season two premiere of Showtime’s Masters of Sex debuting this Sunday, MONEY decided to dip into our own trove of data about people’s romantic lives. But while Masters sexologists William Masters and Virginia Johnson explored the nature of human sexual response through lab work, we dug into the matter from an angle closer to our hearts: couples’ paychecks.

As part of June’s exclusive Love & Money survey, we reported on how earning power impacts marriages, including the fights, secrets, and lies money inspires. But we also learned quite a bit about how who wears the pants in the relationship affects how often those pants come off. Here are some of the more titillating findings.

Egalitarian households where the husband and wife earn roughly the same have the most sex, with about 47% of couples reporting getting frisky at least once a week. Couples where the women earns less than her husband were more likely to do the deed at least once a month than other earning pairs. But couples where the woman outlearns her spouse were most likely to say they have sex less than once a month.

Of course, as Masters and Johnson could no doubt tell you, quantity doesn’t equal quality. So we also asked our survey respondents how satisfying their sex was.

Again, couples with similar paychecks outperformed their peers. Egalitarian marriages reported having the hottest sex of any earning pair, with more than half rating their sex life as “hot” or “very good.”

Households where the wives earn nothing were least content with their current sex lives. These pairs were most apt to say their sex life “could be better” (or “what sex life?”), with the women more dissatisfied than the men.

But women weren’t fond of the other extreme either: Women who earned more than their husbands were least likely to report a satisfying sex life, while men in those types of relationships were more likely to feel sexually satisfied than their counterparts in marriages where the wives earned less or nothing.

Across the board, men were easier to please when it came to sex, the size of their paycheck notwithstanding. More men than women said they felt satisfied with their sex lives in every single type of earning relationship.

But there was one area where men and women largely agreed: Over two thirds of husbands and wives said they check their bank balance more often than they have sex.

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